He may have been overlooked by McLaren-Mercedes when it came to choosing a young hot-shot to follow in the wheeltracks of Lewis Hamilton on its young driver programme, but multiple karting champion Jack Harvey has nonetheless proven that he is more than capable of making his own way in the sport - by graduating to the prestigious Formula BMW Euroseries in 2009, on the Formula 1 World Championship support bill.

The Lincolnshire-based ace will compete in the one-make championship with the front-running Fortec Motorsport outfit and with the backing of the Racing Steps Foundation - and he already has the 'rookie' title firmly in his sights. Formula BMW has in the past produced such high-profile talents as current grand prix stars Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica.

The 15-year-old reigning Asia-Pacific and former European and British Karting Champion is clearly excited about taking the next major step towards his ultimate goal of F1, and he will begin his new challenge in Barcelona on 10 May.

"I'm incredibly happy to have been chosen to join the Racing Steps Foundation driver programme," he enthused. "I'm anxious to see how the year goes and to see what happens - but I'm going to try and maximise the opportunity that the Racing Steps Foundation has given me to compete at such a high level in my first season of car racing. I feel it's the right time to make the progression.

"I'm looking at 2009 as a learning year. My aim is to make an improvement every time I get into the car, whether it's testing or over the race weekends. I still want to win races, although I'm not going to expect to turn up each weekend and put it on pole! The rookie title is definitely a target for me, but I'd like to hope that I can be mixing it with the guys with more experience throughout the season - hopefully from the first round, but we'll see..."

Harvey will make the leap into cars off the back of a superb 2008 campaign as a factory works driver with leading Italian kart manufacturer Birel Motorsport, with whom he had originally expected to remain to compete in the new Super KF class in 2009.

"We had a very good season," the Bassingham-based racer acknowledged, speaking to Crash.net Radio. "The start of it was probably the better half of the two, but overall it was very good. We had a win in Japan in the Asia-Pacific Championship - which was obviously a highlight of the year.

"The very last race was when we moved into the KF1 class. It was quite a big step, because with the super-soft Bridgestone tyre it was quite difficult in the first race competing against people who had been on that tyre for three years. Mentally it was a lot harder too, and while it was still an all-for-all, they're a lot more conscious about what's happening around them in KF1.

"We were third for 90 per cent of that race, but then I had a water leak with six laps to go - and it was really quite noticeable for the last three laps. The two people behind me on the last lap were actually able to drive around my outside, so I was a little bit disappointed with that - but in general it was a good season.

"I obviously have an opportunity to travel that most people don't get - which is brilliant - and it's good to see that when we go to places like that we do make the most of it. I'd never been to Asia before, and it was just like nothing I'd ever seen. I really enjoyed it out there.

"It did help that we won - because it was a long way to travel - and the kart was fantastic and so was the engine, so that was the main thing. I wish Birel every success in 2009. I had a fantastic time with them and have made some great friends. I know they will take some great results this season."

When asked about the secret behind his sustained success, Harvey was unequivocal, well aware that he has been fortunate to have enjoyed 'good support from the kart and engine manufacturers' and 'the right people around me to get the best out of myself' - and it is clear that he has repeatedly gotten the best out of them too. The men who will run him in 2009 evidently hope and believe that it is a trait that will translate across into cars.

"We had seen Jack's results in karting over the last couple of years," revealed Racing Steps Foundation boss Derek Walters, "and after he had his initial test in the Formula BMW car he continued to impress us with his professionalism and his pace.

"We agreed that BMW was the right place for him to be, and we're excited about him being part of the programme. He's very focussed, and it would be nice to see him win the rookie title in his first season, certainly."

"I've known about Jack for quite a while and had my eye on him," added Fortec team boss Richard Dutton. "His results in karts show he has plenty of potential, and his early testing pace has been very good. The team is already impressed with him and he is proving to be very professional and focussed on what he needs to do.

"I'm excited about what we can achieve over the course of the season. The rookie title is definitely there, but it would be nice to think we can do more than that."

Although sad to lose such potential, Birel Motorsport boss Ronni Sala was similarly full of praise for his 2008 KF2 charge.

"Jack is a very professional driver and we had some great success with him," the Italian remarked. "He has a very mature approach to his driving and he always gets the best result possible on the day, which is important to win championships. I am 100 per cent certain that he will be successful in car racing, and everyone at Birel is happy that he has this chance to move up."

TO LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW IN FULL: CLICK HERE

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